Western Chess & XiangQi at my House in Bontang, Indo Wednesday, Oct 21 2009 

The Chess club at SMA YPK in Bontang, Indonesia in East Kalimantan, or Borneo, is underway and hopefully will be starting this or next week.

Thursday of last week, however, I had about a dozen students over my house to play chess and to teach some of them how to play XiangQi, or Chinese chess.
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Chess Lessons at My House

Chess Lessons at My House


Some students already know how to play. In the picture above I’m playing a great game against one of the students while teaching the others and making general points on strategy and rules of thumb.
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Two Students Playing

Two Students Playing


In SMA YPK in Bontang I have fortunately not the same assumptions about chess and gender as other school. It is much more like the Kakemer Resource Center where girls were just as eager to learn as the boys. Among those that already play, however, the vast majority are boys. When the club officially starts we’ll see how many join.
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Chess and XiangQi (Chinese Chess)

Chess and XiangQi (Chinese Chess)


Some of the students already knew Western Chess, but none of them were familiar with XiangQi or Chinese Chess. Though at first intimidating with the foreign characters it has on its pieces, there was a lot of interest and one of the students immediately started reading one of the books i had on how to play XiangQi. This is the first program where I will be teaching Chinese Chess.

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Thank you
Paul Chiariello

Short Updates on CEA Chess Programs Friday, Oct 16 2009 

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have been able to write an update on any of our current projects or plans.

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Bontang, East Kalimantan (Borneo) Indonesia

1) Currently I am in the midst of setting up the Chess club here at SMA YPK, a highschool in East Kalimantan, or Borneo.  There is a lot of excitement and my students (I’m also working as an English teacher here) have asked me when it will start.  Yesterday I had several students over my house to play chess.  I also taught a few the basics of XiangQi, or Chinese chess.  I plan to add XiangQi to the formal chess club later.

Kakemer, Western Kenya

2) The Kakemer Resource Center has officially opened.  Along with the largest library in Kakemer and a very successful computer training program (the first of its kind in the area), the CEA chess program that was started at the KR Center for primary and secondary students in the surrounding villages has been more than successful.  Many students are coming almost every day after their classes in the neighboring secondary school and are bringing their friends as well.  New boards for the resource center should be arriving with the help of the Global Literacy Project within the next few months, allowing more and more students to play.  There are picture of students from the KR Center playing below.

Malaba, Western Kenya

3) Students at the Isegeretoto Primary School in Malaba, Kenya are keeping the excitement of their first tournament alive.  From reports of Collette Young who works with the school, the chess club is as active as it was before CEA volunteers left it to be run by the school itself.  Beautiful new plaques have now replaced the temporary tournament trophies that are in pictures in previous posts on this blog.  Hopefully I will be able to post more pictures soon.

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Thank you,

Paul Chiariello

Chess Tournament Pics at Isegeretoto Primary, Kenya Wednesday, Sep 23 2009 

While at the Isegeretoto Primary school in Malaba, Western Kenya the CEA held its second chess tournament.  This was also the first program with primary school children.  Along with the help of Ashley Salerno, who picked up running the tournament after I left and took these pictures, the two day competition went smoothly and we were able to award first second and third places to several students.

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Students thinking hard during the chess tournament

Students thinking hard during the chess tournament

Nearly 35 students, boys and girls, signed up for the double elimination tournament.  To finish within a reasonable time we had to borrow several chess boards from the Kakemer Resource Center, another CEA program we were running in the area.  With seven boards total we were able to finish in two days.

Final match at the Isegeretoto's first chess tourn

Final match at the Isegeretoto's first chess tourn

Above, a few students face off in the heated finals mat

First, Second, Third and Fourth place at the chess tourn

First, Second, Third and Fourth place at the chess tourn

First, Second and Third place all got trophies while fourth also got an honorable mention in the following Monday’s student assembly.  In front of the entire primary school the four students got their rightful recognition for all of their hard work and clever playing.  The tournament was definitely a success and created a lot of interest.  Both students and faculty were very excited for next semester’s tournament, which they will be administering.

Thank you,

Paul Chiariello

Restore Academy Chess Tournament Pics Wednesday, Sep 16 2009 

At each of our chess programs we hold tournaments toget the students excited about the game and show off their chess talents.  So far we’ve been holding looong double elimination tournaments which become big events at the schools.

Below are pictures from the first official CEA tournament at the Restore Academy in Northern Uganda.

Siobhan and Paul Facilitating the Restore Ac Chess Tourn

Siobhan and Paul Facilitating the Restore Ac Chess Tourn

Above Paul Chiariello, chess tutor for the CEA, and Siobhan Riordan, director of media resources for the CEA (she’s taken most of these photos), are watching and organizing games for the Restore Academy’s first chess tournament.  Only weeks ago these students didn’t know what chess was.  Now they’re planning several moves ahead and securing checkmates left and right.

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Me and the 4 Winners of the Restore Academy's Chess Tourn

Me and the 4 Winners of the Restore Academy's Chess Tourn w/ Trophies

Above are the first, second, third and fourth place winners of the all day saturday and sunday affair.  These students came out through the thick and thin of it, neck and neck, each losing at least one game before it came down to the finals.  The Principal of the Restore Academy and Restore International, the non-profit which founded the school, promised to continue to hold tournaments seeing how much of a success they were.  Though currently we dont have the funds, in the future the CEA plans to offer small academic scholarships to tournament winners.

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Thank you,

Paul Chiariello

A Few More Pics from Uganda and Kenya Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

Me teaching the basics at Isegeretoto Primary

Me teaching the basics at Isegeretoto Primary

At the Isegeretoto Primary School in Malaba, Kenya I was able for the first time to work with primary, or elementary, school children.  It was also the first time where i had to work with 30-40+ students at once.  The board I’m working with was very helpful.  I was able to draw simple illustrations of each of the pieces and how they moved.  In the center you can also see the “Rules of Checkmate.”  These are five simple rules that slowly evolved to help explain wht check means, the need to escape, how to escape, and what happens if you can’t, i.e. checkmate.  FYI: pawns are very difficult to explain!

Bird's Eye View: Collaborative Play

Bird's Eye View: Collaborative Play

The large number of kids also worked to my advantage in some ways as they would play in teams.  Their separate chunks of knowledge concerning the rules balanced out so that they made, as a whole, fewer mistakes.  They were also able to refer to the board in arguments about the rules, bishops and rooks were often confused.

Copying the basic rules of Checkmate and Movement

Copying the basic rules of Checkmate and Movement

Eventually I came up with a more precise set of rules for checkmate that the students could understand without any other background knowledge of chess.  For example using the word “eat” and other synonyms instead of “capture.”  Above is a secondary, or high school, student at the Kakemer Resource Center in Western Kenya copying his own set of the rules for the movements of the pieces and the rules of checkmate from another student as he watches some of his friends play.

Pointing out good moves and other pointers at the Restore Academy

Pointing out good moves and other pointers at the Restore Academy

The Restore Academy was the CEA’s first  pilot program.  Northern Uganda, especially Gulu, was ravaged for 20 years by a civil war which only subsided (but not ended) two years ago.  Many of these students didnt have a chance to go to school for long periods of time throughout their lives and had never even heard of chess before.  However, they picked it up quickly and with a passion.  Here I’m pointing out to day old players how to think ahead a few moves and watch out for some obvious attacks.

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hopefully i’ll publish more photos and media from the CEA’s programs in Uganda and Kenya before we start our new initiatives in Indonesia!

Thanks for reading,

Paul Chiariello

Arrival to Indonesia Friday, Sep 4 2009 

Hello all,

I just arrived in Indonesia less than a week ago.  Spent some time in Jakarta for Fulbright orientation and will be taking three weeks of relatively intense language courses in Bahasa Indonesian.  After that i’ll be heading straight for Bontang to the site where I will be teaching English and setting up several CEA programs.

I’m going to be spending 9 months in Bontang inside Kutai National Park in Borneo, Indonesia.  I hope to set up several western chess programs as well as the CEA’s first Xiangqi (chinese or elephant chess) and Go clubs.  Hopefully these programs will be as great of successes as we had in Kenya and Northern Uganda.

I probably won’t be writing too much over the next few weeks but hope to write as often as i can while in borneo working with the chess clubs.

Thank you,

Paul Chiariello